Small Grasmere Hotel Puts Cumbria Food on the National Map

The fairy tale for a small hotel in Grasmere, Oak Bank on Broadgate, began on a quiet Monday, November 18th when a Mr Collie was booked in for lunch. Mr Collie turned out to be Mr Rayner, as in THE Mr Jay Rayner, he of Observer restaurant critic fame and published novelist. I’d hazard a guess that it came as quite a shock on the winter Monday afternoon.

It must be quite hard to gauge whether a critic has enjoyed the food and experience in a restaurant or not well except if it was completely awful and surely then squirms and the leaving of food give the game away. It is usually when the words are circulated in nationwide print the restaurant knows how they have been received.

However, the chef and proprietor of Oak Bank had an inkling that Mr Rayner enjoyed the food from the note left on the menu “Thank you for a bloody fabulous meal”. Excitement enough but when the full review was published in The Observer on December 8th, excitement went into overload so did social media. The review was glowing and possibly one of his most complimentary and all summed up very nicely “Grasmere’s modest Oak Bank Hotel boasts a remarkable secret: the brilliant cooking of Darren Comish”.

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Jay Rayner signed Oak Bank Hotel menu

Darren only joined Oak Bank in May 2013 but I’ve known a couple of people who have eaten there since he joined who raved about it, the photos of his food certainly qualify this. Yes, The Dining Room at Oak Bank has 2 AA rosettes so it has been acknowledged for its quality but what I think is far more exciting is that this independent, small hotel in Grasmere in the Lake District is producing food of this quality making use of the wonderful Lake District larder.

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One of the dishes from chef Darren Cornish at Oak Bank Hotel

Just reading the review and Jay writes that he went into the kitchen and met Darren. Being a quiet Monday, it was just Darren in the kitchen and just he that prepared and cooked all the food Jay ate that day, very impressive. Although I gather Monday’s won’t be quiet anymore with bookings being taken right left and centre as a result of the “Jay Rayner Effect”!

The Dining Room Restaurant at the Oak Bank Hotel in Grasmere can be booked by telephoning 015394 35217.

The full review can be read here